The Ciguatera toxin has again been detected in Belize. The Ministry of Health says it was detected in ten persons who ate Barracuda bought from a fish vendor at the Vernon Street Fish Market in Belize City.

This is not the first time we have heard of ciguatera poisoning in Belize. Here is what to look out for in an interview on the last time it was detected in the Sandhill area:

FILE: August 18, 2017
"Let's say you go ahead and you buy the fish. What are some of the symptoms that you can look out for and when do you actually go to the hospital?"

Lisa Tillett, Sr. Public Health Insp., MOH
"It's a toxin and if you know anything about toxins, toxins go directly to the nervous system. So you will start having tingling in your toes, fingers, lips, and throat. You will start will the abdominal cramps, headache, vomiting, diarrhea - it's something that occurs rapidly and that's what food poisoning is all about. The time it takes to react in the body. So it will start anything from like an hour to like 3-4 hours after you consume it."

"What are some of the things that we should look out for specifically when buying Barracuda?"

Lisa Tillett, Sr. Public Health Insp., MOH
"See and that's the thing, common people like you and I we won't be able to spot anything wrong with it and that is why we are just asking to refrain from consuming. To be on the safe side, just refrain from consuming."

Ciguatera is normally seen in predatory fish, mainly Barracuda. The Ministry of Health adds that the toxin does not affect the appearance, odor or taste of the fish and that freezing or cooking the contaminated fish will not prevent the poisoning. Anyone who consumes fish contaminated with the ciguatera toxin will become ill.

The symptoms range from: tingling and numbness in fingers and toes, around lips, tongue, mouth and throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and or abdominal cramps, joint pains, headache and difficulty breathing. The gastrointestinal or stomach symptoms normally appear within 24 hours of exposure and those of the nervous system can appear one to two days later.

It is important to note that symptoms usually disappear after a few days but complete recovery happens after a few weeks.

To prevent ciguatera poisoning, consumers can:

1. Avoid eating the head, roe or fish egg, liver or other organs of the fishes as it is where the highest level of toxin is present.
2. Eat other types of fish.
3. Avoid eating large sea fish. Limit the weight of a fish to less than 11 pounds as ciguatera fish poisoning occurs more frequently when larger fish are eaten.
4. Report any suspected fish poisoning to the local Public Health Officer so necessary action can be taken to prevent it.

Channel 7